He wouldn't find his true calling until 1979, when a banker friend asked for his help getting back a Cessna 310 from a small-time chartering business. "I flew down there, grabbed it and got paid for it. I didn't think anything of it," he says. "I dropped off the plane and the guy calls yelling his head off. He says, 'You didn't ask for enough money! Send me a new bill but multiply it by three!'"
A few days later, Popovich found $145,000 in his checking account. A super repo man had been born.
If any communications devices are missing, that is where his portable radio and GPS device come in handy — so that he can safely fly the plane. No hot-wiring is involved, he said, and usually the only key required is the one to open the door. . . . But he will not fly off, he said, until the plane has a clean bill of health from a mechanic, a process that is more complicated if the logbooks cannot be found. Mr. Hill emphasized that he did not jump into planes after dark and fly away. “I’ll do a thorough preflight inspection and make sure there are blue skies all the way,” he said. “I won’t expose the bank to more problems than it has.”
In case harbor officials noticed and tried to call for help on their cellphone, Hardberger had paid a witch doctor $100 to cast spells on the port's soccer field. The witch doctor marked the field with gray powder, a clear warning to believers in voodoo, the nation's dominant religion. No call ever went out.
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